6 Tips for Picking Up the Pieces of a Broken Heart

Life Can Break Your Heart

Life is hard, and the painful things you’re going through in life can break your heart. Have you ever felt like this person who reached out to us?

“I just went through a breakup, and I feel like it came out of nowhere. One week, he was telling me how much he loved me. Then, all of a sudden, he doesn’t think we want the same things anymore. I never thought I would go back to being alone so soon, but everyone keeps telling me I need to pick up the pieces and move on. How do I do that? What am I supposed to do without this person I thought I was going to share my life with?”

Heartbreak is always tough. But it can be devastating in a way that really derails us, especially when:

  • You believed you would stay with someone forever.
  • The person who broke your heart is a parent or immediate family member.
  • The relationship became toxic, harmful, or abusive.
  • You lost friends in addition to the partner you broke up with. 
  • People are telling you that the heartbreak isn’t a big deal, or that “it’s all in your head” and you need to “get over it.”
  • You struggle with hating yourself or feel like no one can love you because you’ve heard unkind words from your partner.

I know it feels like you don’t know where to begin when it comes to picking up the pieces of a broken heart. But I want you to know I feel your pain as you’re trying to process this heartbreak. It’s hard to come back after heartbreak, but it’s not impossible. There are steps you can take, one day at a time, to move forward and get back to feeling like yourself again.

1. Let Yourself Express “Bad Feelings”

When your heart has been broken, you feel things with an intensity you didn’t think was possible before. It’s tempting to ignore or stuff down feelings we may think are “negative” (like anger, sadness, or fear). 
But if we ignore our feelings, or bottle them up inside, we’re not actually taking the time to figure out why we’re hurting, or to explore how we really feel about the person or situation that broke our heart. That means we may not be able to get the help we really need, and we may end up feeling stuck in a loop of negative emotions. 
On the other hand, naming as many feelings you can when your heartbreak brings them up is an important step toward getting the specific, unique support you need.

  • If you don’t know how to start, try: I feel [emotion] when I think about [heartbreaking situations] because [why you think you feel this way].
    • For example: I feel angry when I think about our breakup because he didn’t give me a real reason, we couldn’t work things out. 

Don’t be afraid to name your feelings. They feel powerful, but they’re just emotions, and you’re in charge. Try it just once a day to start with. You might be surprised how much you learn about yourself, and about your life, in the process.

2. Expect Ups and Downs

There will be ups and downs as you cope with heartbreak. Some days, you’ll feel down in the dumps, like nothing will ever change. Other times, you may feel exhilarated and free, like you get to start fresh and redefine yourself. These feelings are normal, and a part of the grieving and healing process.

You don’t have to force yourself to feel better, be happy, or think differently about the heartbreaking situation. As you continue to make efforts to talk about and work through your feelings from day to day, your emotions will shift and change over time. There’s no need to rush it. Just start with how you feel about it today, and work from there.

3. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

In the world of social media and sharing personal stories, it’s easy to seek out what others are doing, and how they’ve healed from their heartbreak and sadness. That can certainly help you feel less alone and isolated, but avoiding comparison is important. Everyone’s journey is different, and there’s no “one right way” to recover from heartbreak.

Don’t beat yourself up if weird and tough feelings come up along the way. It’s going to happen. and there may be people that don’t get it. But there are plenty of people who have been on this journey, and have come out the other side, who will offer understanding and a listening ear along the way. 

4. Remember Good Things and Growth

The sadness of heartbreak can dominate and overwhelm, but it’s helpful to remember good things about your relationship or friendship. There is some goodness about situations and people, even the complicated and difficult ones. It may not be possible to find good things to hold on to about someone, depending on the reasons the relationship went south. That’s okay. Just work with whatever you have.

If you can, think about things like:

  • What you’ve learned about yourself along the way
  • How you’ve shown strength during the ordeal of heartbreak
  • How you can be a better friend as a result of this tough situation

5. Try Something New

There will be a sense of a “hole” in your life after a heartbreak. Rather than filling it with unkind thoughts toward yourself, or unhealthy behaviors, you can branch out and try something new:

  • A hobby you’ve been wanting to start
  • A new book or podcast
  • A recipe or style of cooking
  • A new type of exercise or movement

Or perhaps that “hole” could be filled by examining your spiritual beliefs and learning more about God and the relationship He desires to have with you. Did you know God sees you as precious, loved, and a masterpiece? If you’re not sure where to start, or if you don’t understand why God would let you experience heartbreak, praying about it may help you find greater peace. If you are open to finding time to pray each day or each week, it may be a great comfort to discover what the Creator of the universe has to say about you. Over time, you could replace the harmful lies that heartbreak has made you believe about yourself with this important truth: You are loved by a God who will never abandon you and has set you on a path that He knows will bring you happiness, even if it’s not the path you thought you’d be taking.

Any of these are great opportunities to grow, learn, have fun, and find joy, which you can still do (even with a broken heart).
If you’re not feeling very motivated, check with a close friend about what they’re interested in these days. Maybe you two can start exercising together, do a book club with some of your favorite books, or take a free online course. There are lots of things out there waiting to be tried that are healthy distractions from a heartbreaking situation.

6. Get Help If It’s Too Much

Even with the best intentions, heartbreak can seem to take over your body and mind. If it feels like depression is overwhelming you, especially to the point where you’re despairing, get support and guidance. 

  • You don’t have to feel like there’s nothing you can do.
  • You don’t have to feel like there’s no one you can talk to. 
  • You don’t have to stay stuck in a cycle of depression and hopelessness. 

You can talk to a faith leader, a counselor, or a trusted friend. And, if you don’t know where to turn first, you can talk to us. 
TheHopeLine offers mentoring via chat and email to support you during this tough time. Talk to one of our HopeCoaches today to sort through heartbreak and find a path forward. We are here for you. 

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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